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In a recent poll, residents of Austin cited rising property taxes as a major issue they face, iconic business are having to close their doors and longtime residents are moving out citing rising property taxes. Some have also cited homelessness as an impediment to business. How would you slow or stop the increase in City property taxes, encourage other taxing entities to do the same, and balance the requests for more funding coming from the City Departments and the public? One example of the request of more funding is to expand social service contracts to meet needs, including to provide more supportive housing programs. How do you balance less taxes and increased demand for social services? Please explain.

The most obvious step to reducing city tax burdens is to stop giving exemptions worth hundreds of millions of dollars to private for-profit ventures, such as the recent soccer stadium deal. As Austin continues to grow, we must ensure that growth pays for itself so that current taxpayers do not subsidize the costs of profitable new developments. Austin is attractive enough on its own merits and the city has no need to provide subsidies to promote additional growth at this time. We must also fully understand the financial significance of requests from city departments and the public to ensure we can afford new or expanded programs or proposals. As mayor, I will require such information to be clearly presented as part of such proposals and given in context of the budget. Finally, we must ensure that taxing jurisdictions work together to understand the collective impacts of proposals for tax rates and bond elections, a policy we instituted during my service on City Council and which I will continue to promote as mayor. As a Council Member, I kept a close eye on all city finances during my service on the Audit and Finance Committee, leading deep dives into arcane financial documents to ensure taxpayer dollars were wisely spent (my degree in mathematics was a huge plus in this regard). As mayor, I will continue to balance the need for lower taxes with our responsibility to provide social services and other supports for Austin’s most vulnerable populations. It is important to keep an eye on the fiscal, long-term returns on investments that we make in people, such as pre-K programs.